Slingsby steers Australia to SailGP glory
Defending champions Team Australia have sped past Team Japan and Team USA to claim SailGP's $1 million ($A1.3m), winner take all, Season 2 championship on a crazy Sunday afternoon on San Francisco Bay.
The ultra-competitive Tom Slingsby, nicknamed "Red Mist" for his occasional flashes of temper on the water, claimed sailing's biggest cash prize for the second successive time by avoiding trouble on a day when there were collisions and race abandonments, including the first attempt at the global league's championship race when a whale was spotted on the course.
Slingsby and his five crewmates, including tactician Nina Curtis, whooped and hollered as they hit the finish line well ahead of their rivals -- skippered by Australians Nathan Outteridge (Team Japan) and Jimmy Spithill (Team USA).
The Australian crew sprayed each other with champagne and took swigs of bubbly after being presented with the trophy by Russell Coutts, a five-time America's Cup winner who co-founded SailGP with tech tycoon Larry Ellison.
Slingsby's victory came three days after he capsized his $7m ($A9.1m) foiling 50-foot catamaran, the Flying Roo, at the end of a practice session, causing major damage to the wing sail that took the shore crew two sleepless nights to repair.
Slingsby beat Outteridge for the inaugural SailGP title and $1m cheque in 2019 -- before COVID-19 put paid to the 2020 season after just one regatta and delayed the start of the 2021 campaign.
An Olympic gold medallist and former America's Cup champion, Slingsby got his catamaran foiling first at the restart of the grand finale and sped into massive lead.
His cat came off the foils on the fourth of six legs, but the crew got it going again and Slingsby stayed well ahead of his fellow Aussies.
The first attempt at sailing the grand final was abandoned shortly after Slingsby sped into the lead by slingshotting around the second mark.
The $1 million season championship race came at the end of the Mubadala United States Grand Prix, which Team Australia also won.
The Aussies won five of the eight regattas, including the past three.
Spithill and his crew have endured mayhem all season, and Sunday was no different.
He had the right-of-way at a mark during the fourth fleet race earlier in the day when his cat was hit from behind by Spain, punching a hole in the port stern.
The American team sat out the final fleet race while the shore crew quickly repaired the boat.
Spithill capsized his catamaran on Monday, causing only minor damage.
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